Statistics That Defined Arsenal's 2016-17 Season
Arsenal's season finally drew to a close with a record-breaking 13th FA Cup in the bag.
While that Wembley Stadium triumph enabled the Gunners to end the campaign on a high, the 2-1 victory over Chelsea on Saturday does not tell the entire story of the club's tumultuous season.
In this piece, we look at the key statistics that defined Arsenal's 2016/17 term—starting with that remarkable Wembley win.
Read on to discover the numbers that illustrate the true tale of Arsenal's season.
13: Most FA Cup Wins for Any Team in History
Arsenal's FA Cup win means they have now claimed the trophy more times than any other English team.
For the Gunners to be ahead of every other English side, with 13 cup triumphs to their name, is a huge milestone.
The FA Cup is disparaged in some quarters, but Arsenal and their fans have a great affinity with this historic competition.
7: Most FA Cup Wins for Any Manager in History
When Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 at the weekend, Arsene Wenger became the most successful manager in FA Cup history.
Arsenal's third FA Cup win in four years allowed the Frenchman to overtake George Ramsay, who was in charge of Aston Villa between 1884 and 1926.
Given that modern managers don't tend to stick around as long as Wenger, it has to be considered unlikely that anyone will overtake this remarkable record.
45: Number of Goals Directly Contributed to by Alexis Sanchez
Where would Arsenal be without Alexis Sanchez? The Chilean has been in inspired form this season, and he has contributed an enormous amount to the team's cause.
He has been lethal in front of goal. This season, he became the first Arsenal player to score 30 goals since Robin van Persie in 2011/12.
However, there was far more to his year than that. Alexis also provided 15 assists for his team-mates, giving the lie to the idea that he is a selfish player.
1: Number of Starts by Per Mertesacker
Per Mertesacker's record for 2016/17 is pretty special—one start, one trophy.
It was a bizarre campaign for the club captain, who missed the first half of the season with a serious knee injury only to be left on the sidelines having returned to fitness.
In fact, Mertesacker had to wait until the last fixture of the Premier League season to even get off the bench, coming on as a replacement for the injured Gabriel Paulista against Everton.
A sudden injury crisis meant Wenger was forced to throw Mertesacker in at the deep end for the FA Cup final against Chelsea, and the giant German responded with an outstanding display that culminated in him lifting the silverware.
10: Number of Goals Conceded Via Penalty Kicks
Arsenal conceded an incredible 10 penalty kicks over the course of the season.
According to WhoScored.com, that figure accounted for 23 per cent of their conceded goals. To put that in some perspective, counter-attacks (which have been previously been a defensive weakness at Arsenal) added up to just two per cent.
Quite why the Gunners have been so generous when it comes to spot-kicks is difficult to gauge. It could be a consequence of last-ditch, desperate defending.
If Arsenal can find a way to keep their cool in their own box next season, they will surely see this figure drop.
0: Number of Cards Shown for Simulation
Here's one to be proud of for Arsenal fans: The Gunners went through the entire Premier League season without being shown a single card for simulation.
No supporter likes to see a player dive, and Arsenal fans were delighted to see Chelsea's Victor Moses dismissed in the FA Cup final for throwing himself to the ground in a blatant attempt to deceive the referee.
Arsenal players have been accused of being somewhat theatrical in the past, but this season they appear to have largely cleared up their act.
5th: Arsenal's Lowest Premier League Finish
For the first time in Wenger's two decades at the helm, Arsenal have failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
The Frenchman might feel a little aggrieved; Arsenal ended the season with 75 points, which is four more than they managed in 2015/16, when they finished second.
Competition for the top four was always going to be intense this year, and Arsenal need a strong summer to ensure they do not fall behind the likes of Chelsea, the Manchester clubs and local rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
2,298: Number of Premier League Passes Made by Granit Xhaka
Despite only starting 28 Premier League matches, Granit Xhaka made a remarkable 2,298 passes for Arsenal this season. Only one other player in the English top flight managed more, and that was Cesar Azpilicueta, who played every single game for Chelsea.
The fact that Xhaka played so many accurate balls is a reflection of the manner in which he slowly took over as the team's key distributor.
When Santi Cazorla went down to injury in October, Wenger had to reconstruct his midfield, and Xhaka was key to their new approach.
Although he initially looked as if he might struggle to live up to his hefty price tag, the Switzerland international eventually became integral to Arsenal's game.
44: 2nd Highest Premier League Goals Conceded of Arsene Wenger's Reign
Ultimately, Arsenal's defending was not good enough this season. That shows in the Premier League record: They conceded 44 goals, the highest number of any team in the top seven.
It's also the most league goals the Gunners have shipped since their turbulent campaign of 2011/12.
It's worth pointing out that Arsenal steadied the ship considerably after switching to a back three, conceding just seven goals in their final 10 matches and keeping four clean sheets along the way. That system will surely form the blueprint for next season.
48: Number of Through Balls by Alexis Sanchez in the Premier League
This is the season in which Alexis Sanchez evolved into a creator as well as a goalscorer.
In the Premier League campaign, he played an astonishing 48 through balls—the next-highest total came from Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne with 31.
Although Alexis shone as a centre-forward, ultimately Wenger realised Arsenal were better off utilising his creative potential from deeper positions.
115: Number of Saves Made by Petr Cech in the Premier League
Although he was on the receiving end of criticism from Arsenal fans at some points in the season, only four goalkeepers in the Premier League made more saves than Petr Cech across the course of the campaign.
That quartet played for Burnley, Sunderland, Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion. The fact Cech, 35, was forced into so many saves as 'keepers predominantly from the lower reaches of the Premier League shows that Arsenal's defending wasn't good enough.
As for Cech, that statistic offers him a measure of redemption and shows he is far from past it yet.
2: Number of Premier League Red Cards for Granit Xhaka
However, his aggression was arguably overplayed by the media. Both red cards came in the first half of the campaign, and Xhaka steadily settled into the tempo of the Premier League.
His fellow summer arrival, Shkodran Mustafi, actually picked up more bookings over the course of the league season (11).
Both players are seemingly better when they stay on their feet—that's a clear area for improvement next season.
90%: Arsenal's Win Ratio After Switching to a Back Three
Wenger is not a manager renowned for his tactical flexibility. When he switched formation to a back three, it looked like a last desperate roll of the dice.
However, the gamble paid off in spectacular style. After adopting the new system, the Gunners won nine of their last 10 matches, including landmark victories over Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.
The one regret for Arsenal is that they waited so long to make the change. Had they moved to a back three earlier, they might have avoided the costly defeats against the likes of West Brom and Crystal Palace that ultimately derailed their bid for Champions League qualification.
13: Number of Attempts It Took for Arsene Wenger to Finally Beat Jose Mourinho
If this is to be Wenger's final season at Arsenal, at least he finally got one over on his old adversary, Jose Mourinho.
The Manchester United manager had evaded defeat against the Frenchman 12 times, but Wenger finally recorded a competitive victory over the Portuguese in the 2-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium.
The feat was made all the sweeter by the fact that Danny Welbeck netted an emphatic header against his former club.
0.9: Goals Per 90 Minutes in Premier League for Olivier Giroud
The 2016/17 campaign will be remembered as the season Olivier Giroud proved himself as the ultimate super-sub.
His FA Cup final contribution will live long in the memory—his first touch of significance at Wembley was to cross for Aaron Ramsey to score the winner.
However, his Premier League record was also exceptional. Giroud finished the season with 12 league goals, having only started 11 games. His ratio of goals to game-time was outstanding, averaging 0.9 goals for every 90 minutes played.